The foldable Samsung Galaxy X might not be what you expect

The dual-screened ZTE Axon M smartphone

What will foldable smartphones from the future look like? Maybe a lot like the recently released ZTE Axon M, shown above. But if a recent patent filing potentially hinting at the Samsung Galaxy X is any indication, it will resemble a Nintendo 3DS – but, you know, better.

The images presented in the patent below from LetsGoDigital look very similar to ZTE's concept-in-action: two displays of equal size held together by a hinge.

A closer look at the images presented below show a device that appears much thinner than ZTE’s, which is close in thickness to a deck of cards – a nevertheless impressive feat of engineering that could be trounced by Samsung’s years of expertise in the field.

Samsung’s phone-in-the-making differs from ZTE’s device in that it places the screens on the inside of the hinge rather than the outside, much like Nintendo’s popular dual-screened hand-held and similar in effect to a 2-in-1 computer. Why have the fragile screens facing outward when the foldable design could protect them?

The future is such a tease

Either way, the current reality of foldable devices is very different from the dream of what such devices might look like. Originally shown off at CES 2013, Samsung’s flexible AMOLED display gave us hope that there would soon be a smartphone that looked just like it: thin, single-screened, and so bendable that, perhaps, you could wrap it around your wrist.

But at least we’re finally seeing what appear to be the early fruits of the foldable phone race. And based on the state of today’s technology – and considering these patent images – it looks like there’s still work to do yet before we arrive at something as forward-looking as Samsung's early concept.

ZTE’s attempt at merging two screens together and creating a cohesive experience around them went better than we imagined it would. So, if Samsung’s rumored Galaxy X puts forward a more refined take on the tech, we welcome it – even if we’re just taking small steps toward the future for now.